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Hype can be a very dangerous thing. Sure, hype packs stadiums and sells jerseys, but sometimes it makes for unrealistic expectations and broken hearts. There have been plenty of players over the years who rode outstanding college careers into the NFL and were billed as the next big thing. Reggie Bush is a prime example. 

Reggie Bush career overview

As a running back at USC, Reggie Bush did it all. In his final season alone, he racked up 2,218 yards from scrimmage, including 1,740 rushing yards. He collected 16 rushing touchdowns and had two receptions that also went for scores. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry and added 37 receptions for 478 yards. His college career culminated in 2005 with a Rose Bowl appearance, a Doak Walker award, and the Heisman Trophy. 

In three seasons with the Trojans, he finished with 4,470 yards from scrimmage with a total of 38 touchdowns. He was considered by many the most exciting player in college football.

His college performance built up the hype surrounding him going into the 2006 NFL Draft. The New Orleans Saints made him the second overall pick behind North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams.

While he finished his rookie season with just 565 rushing yards in 155 attempts, he was a force as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Bush caught 88 passes for 742 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him 1,307 yards from scrimmage. He spent the first five years of his 11-year NFL career with the Saints, never rushing for more than 581 in a single season. The Saints traded the versatile running back to the Miami Dolphins before the 2011 season.

In the first of his two seasons with the Dolphins, Bush had his first 1,000-yard season, finishing with 1,086 rushing yards. He had 986 yards on the ground in his second and final season with Miami.

In March 2013, Bush signed a four-year deal with the Detroit Lions, where he ran for 1,006 yards in 14 games in his first season. In 2014, he and Joique Bell split time in the backfield. Bush had 297 yards on 76 carries. The Lions released him after the season.

Bush finished his career with uneventful single seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.

Can Bush be considered a bust?

In a 2007 Bleacher Report article, Bush was labeled a “bust.” In fact, the story made a case for him being the biggest NFL bust in history. Many have looked at Bush as a bust, but is that fair?

Did Bush live up to the hype coming out of college? No. Was his NFL performance worthy of being the No. 2 pick? No.

Was he a bust? No.

It’s tough to call Bush a bust. An argument can be made that he wasn’t even the biggest USC first-round disappointment. His college quarterback, Matt Leinart, went 12th in the draft. He went 8-10 in 18 career NFL starts over six seasons.

While Bush failed to live up to expectations, he did have two 1,000-yard seasons and proved to be a more-than-serviceable running back. The bust label doesn’t fit here.

Ryan Leaf is a bust. JaMarcus Russell is a bust. The same can be said for Tony Mandarich. Reggie Bush doesn’t fall into that category.


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